Tethered spinal cord (TSC) is closely linked with spina bifida because many children born with the neural tube defect have a condition that is very similar to TSC. Their spinal cord remains improperly connected to nearby tissues, even though this is not a true tether.
In addition, those born with one type of spina bifida, spina bifida occulta, have an increased risk of developing a tethered spinal cord. Those who undergo surgery to repair their spina bifida can also develop TSC since a history of spinal trauma and spinal surgery are two leading risk factors for tethering. If your child has a tethered spinal cord related to spina bifida due to medical malpractice, call us.
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Spina Bifida Symptoms Typically Occur Regardless of Spinal Cord Tethering
Many children who develop the condition, specifically myelomeningocele spina bifida, have a spinal cord that remains connected to other tissues. This issue is because of the way the birth defect occurs. As spina bifida develops, the spinal cord fails to separate fully from the skin of the back. This condition prevents the spinal cord from moving up the spinal column.
Unlike TSC, however, the stretching of the spinal cord is not the primary cause of their impairments. Unless treated with cutting-edge prenatal surgery, these children are often born with paralysis from the waist down and an inability to control their bladder and bowels. Untethering their spinal cord will not help them regain any movement or feeling.
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Some Children with Spina Bifida Also Have a Tethered Spinal Cord
Spina bifida occulta is the most difficult type of spina bifida to diagnose, and it is also the least impairing. It generally causes no symptoms, although it may if the child also suffers a tethered spinal cord. If left untreated, this can lead to progressive pain and impairment, and eventually to irreversible damage to the spinal cord.
In addition, children who receive early treatment for other types of spina bifida are also at an increased risk for the condition. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons reports as many as 20 to 50% of children with spina bifida defects who undergo repair surgery shortly after birth will later develop a tethered spinal cord and require an additional procedure to repair the tether.
Diagnosing TSC and Spina Bifida Occulta
Doctors can generally diagnose babies with a severe form of spina bifida during routine prenatal screenings. The parents will learn about their treatment options at that point. When it comes to spina bifida occulta, though, many people who have this condition never know it. It is not obvious during prenatal visits and causes no symptoms in most babies. If there are outward signs or symptoms, it may be because the baby also has a tethered spinal cord.
Signs of a tethered cord in an infant or child with spina bifida occulta may include:
- A foot deformity, such as unusually high arches or hammertoe
- Leg weakness, numbness, or pain
- Inability to control bowel and bladder
If you or your doctor notes these or other signs of a tethered cord in your child, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can diagnose the problem. Treatment generally includes surgery to remove the tether and routine monitoring to ensure re-tethering does not occur.
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Your Child’s Missed Diagnosis or Delayed Treatment May Support a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
If your baby or child endured preventable pain, suffering, or disability because of medical negligence, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. This condition may occur in relation to a tethered spinal cord and spina bifida because of:
- A missed spina bifida diagnosis
- Not offering all available treatment options for spina bifida
- Missing a TSC diagnosis
- A misdiagnosis
- Failing to repair the tether quickly
- Other surgical or medical mistakes related to either condition
A birth injury attorney who practices in your state can help you understand if you have a case against the doctor or hospital and help you prove your case. They can also explain how long you have to take legal action. Each state has its own rules about deadlines and extending deadlines when the victim is an infant. Only a local medical malpractice attorney will be familiar with your state’s rules.
Talk to a Birth Injury Attorney About Your Child’s Case
If your child suffered a tethered spinal cord related to spina bifida and you are curious about whether you can hold the doctor or hospital responsible, you need to discuss your case with a birth injury attorney in your state. At the Birth Injury Lawyers Group, our team can connect you with a lawyer who handles cases like yours.
Call (800) 222-9529 today and let us help you set up a free case review with an attorney in your state.